Door Holding Campaign

by Matt Mattson

hold-door-open-t14749During a chapter-specific meeting I had before my program this weekend (we love doing these, by the way), the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Wyoming came up with a great idea that I wanted to share.

There are a thousand ways to adapt this idea to your organization.  For further inspiration, read this and this.

So, SAE is about being a “True Gentleman.”  This is something that these guys take very seriously.  For this chapter in particular, recruitment is very important this semester, and they want to make sure that they do everything they can to drive high quality men into the group.  Here was their idea.

Because they know that Quantity Drives Quality, they want to meet as many non-Greek men as possible (and add those names to the chapter’s Names List).  This way they will have more people to choose from and can ensure that they’re only recruiting True Gentlemen.  They realized that one of the most effective and efficient ways to  build that Names List is through referrals — asking others to help them identify the best of the best men on campus.

Picture this.  Every door of the student union, library, food court, dorms, and all other high-traffic buildings on campus have a guy standing outside in the cold, in a shirt and tie, every day for a week, holding the door open for every person that walks through.  As the person walks through and inevitably says, “Thank You,” the door holder hands the person a small index card.  On the front of the card, it just says “TRUE GENTLEMEN” (no fraternity letters).  On the back of the card, it says something like this,

“You thought chivalry was dead?  We’re here to prove that true gentlemen still exist at the University of Wyoming.  Would you help us find more men like us?  We’re giving away an award for the top 100 most gentlmanly, chivalrous, and honorable men at Wyoming.  Nominate the guy(s) you think most represent a True Gentleman.”

I NOMINATE: ______________________ as a True Gentleman

He can be reached at: ______________________ or __________________.

My name is: ______________________.

The guys still have some details to work out, but they talked about having  a table in the Student Union taking nominations, setting up a Facebook Fan page for “Wyoming’s True Gentleman Initiative,” and directly asking for referrals of true gentlemen from every professor, staff member, student leader, sorority woman, administrator, freshman, etc. that they could find.  They also talked about giving away a formal prize, and taking out an ad in the student newspaper listing all the nominees and congratulating them (like the Dean’s List of gentlemen).

I loved this idea because, A) It gave their chapter members something to talk about.  So often members don’t strike up conversations with strangers because they don’t have anything interesting to talk about.  B) The campaign was truly based on the organization’s core values. C) It created buzz, but their letters were nowhere to be seen… it doesn’t look like a recruitment effort, and for that matter, it isn’t.  This is a legitimate service to the campus and after a few weeks they’ll reward someone who represents what they believe to be important — being a gentleman.  Because they were nice to people, they’ll have a larger names list and have a targeted list of nominated gentlemen that would make a great new member class. 

This isn’t about tricky marketing or flashy P.R.  It is about adding value to the campus.  It is about engaging with the community through the exemplifcation of fraternal values.  It is about being socially excellent and celebrating social excellence.  These guys genuinely wanted to do this project… not for recruitment gain, but because it is what their organization is about.  I’m guessing they’ll have some recruitment gains as well.